With its Christmas trees and free concerts, West Vancouver’s Dundarave Festival of Lights is a great place to enjoy holiday festivities on the North Shore.
Christmas in West Vancouver
Billed as the “Ultimate Canadian Christmas” and running for over 25 years, the Dundarave Festival of Lights is a very quiet winter holiday festival on most days, but especially interesting on Saturdays during their free concerts.
Over the course of the month as many as 55,000 people turn out each year to celebrate the season and admire the festival’s Christmas trees and holiday decorations.
When, What and Where
In 2018, the Dundarave Festival of Lights runs from December 1st until the end of December.
The North Shore festival features a Forest of Miracles – comprised of dozens of decorated Christmas trees – as well as four Saturdays of free afternoon concerts. Also famous at the venue is the Dundarave Nativity, which is a life-sized nativity scene by master woodcarver Bill Seminoff.
The best times to visit the Dundarave Festival of Lights are during the concerts on Saturdays in the afternoons, and at night when the Forest of Miracles is all lit up. Most evenings you’ll find lots of decorated trees, but not a lot of people.
Forest of Miracles
The Forest of Miracles at the Dundarave Festival of Lights features a collection of dozens of beautifully decorated Christmas trees. It’s a festive fundraising attraction where local businesses, organizations and residents make a donation to the Lookout Society’s North Shore Shelter and then decorate their sponsored Christmas tree.
The collection of trees in the Forest of Miracles is a sight to see and all for a great cause.
Saturday Concerts & Events
Every year free concerts take place at the Dundarave Festival of Lights on Saturdays leading up to Christmas. Here is what happens in 2018:
- December 1st – Dundarave Christmas Fair (likely from noon until dusk).
- December 8th – Dundarave Nativity Paddle Songs (likely from noon until dusk).
- December 15th – Dundarave’s World Christmas (likely from noon until dusk).
- December 22nd – Christmas Wassail & Bonfire Night (likely from 3:00 until 9:30 pm).
Dundarave Christmas Fair
The Dundarave Christmas Fair takes place in the afternoon on Saturday, December 1st. This is the day that Christmas tree sponsors come out and decorate their trees. The trees won’t look impressive until the end, after they are all decorated, but there will be live entertainment to keep people entertained.
At the tree decorating party and lighting ceremony of the Dundarave Christmas Fair in 2018, the Mr. Bannock Indigenous Food Truck is scheduled to be on site. Also, the following groups are performing between noon and around 5 pm.
- 12 pm – Seime & Joshua Adhémar Guitar and Sax
- 1 pm – West Van Pops Band
- 2 pm – Sound Eclectic Choir
- 3 pm – The Hot Mammas
- 4 pm – West Vancouver Youth Band
- 4 pm – Tree lighting Ceremony
Dundarave Nativity Paddle Songs
From around noon until dusk on Saturday, December 8th of 2018, the Dundarave Nativity Paddle Songs is a First Nations’ event including the music of local songwriters as well as traditional songs by Squamish Elders.
Performers at the festival on the second Saturday in December include the following:
- 12 pm – Squamish Elder Wendy Charbonneau and Friends
- 1 pm – St. Thomas Aquinas High School Choir
- 2 pm – Tsleil-Waututh Children of Takaya Dancers
- 3 pm – Black Pontiac Garage Funk
World Christmas Concerts
Dundarave’s World Christmas takes place from around noon until dusk on Saturday, December 15, 2018, and features an international theme. Last year it showcased French, Mariachi and Celtic music. This year will be similar but slightly different.
2018 performers at the event include the following:
- 12 pm – The Viper Central Duo
- 1 pm – Vancouver Morris Men
- 2 pm – Royal Canadian Scottish Country Dance and Ceilidh (community dancing)
- 3 pm – Burstin’ with Broadway
- 4 pm – Tiddly Cove Morris Dancers
Wassail & Bonfire Night
The last Saturday before Christmas Day is Christmas Wassail & Bonfire Night, which is usually from 3:00 until around 9:30 pm and is the last main event of the festival. Festival goers enjoy a large bonfire, the company of lots of people and a visit from Santa Claus.
In 2018 the Christmas Wassail & Bonfire Night takes place on Saturday, December 22nd, and includes the following:
- 3 pm – Best Christmas Pageant
- 4 pm – Blackthorn Band
- 5 pm – Bonfire Lighting
- 5:30 to 7 pm – The Wooly Bears and Square Dancing
- 7 pm – Santa
At the December 22nd event there will also be performances by Circus Kids, an illuminated kayak flotilla, and carolling until the bonfire’s coals die down.
Also in the Area
While in the area, consider combining your trip to the Dundarave Festival of Lights with a visit to other nearby places of interest. The Beach House is a great restaurant right beside the event venue – just be sure to make reservations in advance, especially on a Saturday.
Dundarave is also right on the water and connected to Ambleside by the seawall, making the area a great place for walks. And finally, just a couple of minutes away is the West Vancouver Aquatic Centre which has one of the region’s best swimming pools, making it a fabulous place to visit if you have kids or want some indoor exercise.
Other places to check out on the North Shore this time of year are the local ski hills (which also offer snowshoeing, tubing and other winter activities), and other top Christmas attractions like Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge, the Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain, and the Holiday Hi-Light Festival at the Park and Tilford Gardens in North Vancouver.
And if all those amazing places aren’t enough, just on the other side of the Lions Gate Bridge are the millions of Christmas lights at Bright Nights in Stanley Park where admission is by donation.
For more information on the West Vancouver event, click Dundarave Festival of Lights.
For more ideas on places to see Christmas lights in the Lower Mainland, check out Top Things to do at Christmas.
And for more fun things to do in December, check out Vancouver’s December Calendar.